cover image Vera Bushwack

Vera Bushwack

Sig Burwash. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 trade paper (236p) ISBN 978-1-77046-711-8

Burwash’s confident debut aches with joy and pain. Drew, a tough and suspicious “bushwacker,” is determined to build a cabin in the woods on their own. Flanked by their dog Pony, Drew cuts down trees, salvages wood from an abandoned house, swims and fishes in the nearby lake, and accepts coffee, chats, and chain saw lessons from a local lumberjack. The experience of sheer physical power—revving the chain saw, straddling a motorcycle, gunning a truck—inspires fantasies that break free of common sense and panel borders. In one, Drew transforms into “Vera Bushwack” and rides rodeo in nothing but fringed backless chaps, wielding power tools over their head. Drew’s phone conversations with their close friend Ronnie and flashbacks to traumatic moments in their pre-wilderness life hint at the motivations behind their pursuit of total freedom—“It can feel impossible to feel safe,” Drew confesses to their lumberjack neighbor at one point—but the book doesn’t push for dramatic disclosures. Instead, Burwash observes Drew’s quest with keen curiosity, detailing each skill learned and portraying each day as a step closer to a goal. Burwash’s fine, clean lines sketch out vibrant characters and loose natural vistas, capturing the texture of dark, buggy nights and mud-streaked afternoons. Readers will relish this fresh and unforced celebration of a wild and precious life. (June)